Celebration Bowl: I Hope the Band Stays on the Field

The Celebration Bowl, in Atlanta and sponsored by none other than ESPN. In reality, we have ESPN to blame for the major expansion in bowl games as they will televise about 98% of all bowls in the 2015/2016 season. That dissent aside Mitch told me to talk to you about this titillating match-up between the Aggies of North Carolina A&T (bonus if you know what A&T stands for) and the Braves from Alcorn State. Common sense would tell you to pick the Braves because they’re playing in the city of the Braves but neither Braves team is actually from Hotlanta. Alcorn State’s Braves are from beautiful Lorman, Mississippi and the Atlanta Braves are originally from Boston, but we’ll go with Milwaukee cause I’m a fan of the Beast.

“’The Beast’ tastes like I’m swishing around piss in my mouth.” - college bros all across America

I was kidding about being a fan of the beast.

Back to Football

North Carolina’s A&T has long been known for their spectacular band, but is efforting to change that with its first bowl appearance since its 36-13 Heritage Bowl loss to Alabama State in 1991. The Aggies last won a bowl game in 1980 (I wasn’t born until 1982) at the Gold Bowl 37-0 versus now FCS North Carolina Central.

Alcorn State is the defending 2014 Black National Champion (I’d like to see that ring) and is the back-to-back Southwest Athletic Conference champion and is facing North Carolina A&T for the first time since beating the Aggies in Lorman, 16-13 in 2004.

ASU’s (Hi, Sun Devil people) bowl record is 1-2 with its last appearance and win in 1968 36-8 over Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic.

The Orange Blossom Classic, which was seen as the mythical Black National Championship Game, hasn’t been played since 1978. The regular season game between Florida A&M and Florida International is called the Orange Blossom Classic, but Florida International isn’t a historically black college. Weird, but whatever.

I have to be completely honest with you here, I know absolute nothing about either team as they compete at the FCS level, but because Mitch ordered me to preview this game, I’ll talk about North Carolina’s band.

Leave the Band on the Field

The Blue and Gold Marching Machine is the largest of the Historically Black College and University bands in the country and features around 220 students. If this band wanted to be the Best Damn Black Band in the Land (Hi, Ohio State) it would mimic the Buckeye’s marching band and drop all those silly woodwinds and go all brass.


That’s the band’s 2010 performance of the Bed Intruder Song – which I had never heard of before I wrote this. I can only speak for myself, but making a song about rape and then having a marching band do a ‘cover’ of it only to have it go viral seems a bit out of place to me. Among other things.

Anyway, BGMM is a great band, and if I were good enough to be in a band in my collegiate days this is one that I would have approved of. My skills extend to super terrible percussion player and an even worse drum major, if such a thing exists.

Famous Alumni

What would a preview of an insignificant bowl be without mentioning the famous alumni of each school?

Alcorn State

  • Medgar Evers – civil rights activist; assassinated in 1963; wife portrayed by Whoopie Goldberg in ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’
  • Michael Clark Duncan – actor; played John Coffey in ‘The Green Mile’ and appeared in ‘Armageddon’ (which is a terrible movie); died of heart attack in 2010; his wife Omarose Onee Manigault (from Ohio – who isn’t at this point?) unsuccessfully gave him CPR.
  • Alex Haley – author of ‘Roots’; Chief Petty Officer (Go Navy, Who hasn’t beaten Army?) No relation to Charles.

North Carolina A&T

  • Ronald McNair – astronaut; died in 1986 on Space Shuttle Challenger
  • Jesse Jackson Jr. – son of senior (obviously); Illinois House of Representatives;
  • Jesse Jackson Sr. – father of junior; civil rights activist; 1984 candidate for President of the United States; stood feet away from Martin Luther King Jr when King was assassinated in 1968

If the game began and ended at halftime, North Carolina Agricultural and Technology University would be the clear winner, but Alcorn State’s history of superior football and great depth of alumni put them over the top in the first  Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.

E-mail Damien at damien.bowman@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.